Standards of Quality: Part 4
If you have read my previous blog posts, or talked to an employee at Ozark Natural Foods about our standards of quality, you are probably aware of some ingredients we make sure to keep out of our co-op. As a review, all food products in our store are free of artificial preservatives, artificial ingredients, artificial sweeteners, chemical additives, added monosodium glutamate (MSG), and are non-irradiated. Plus, our produce is all Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown, and we source from local farmers whenever possible. Let’s take a look at some artificial sweeteners and address why we don’t sell them.
Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low) is a common artificial sweetener used in “diet” food. It is approximately 350 times sweeter than sugar. Saccharin is the original artificial sweetener, accidentally created in 1879 at Johns Hopkins University. Studies on rodents have shown that it causes cancer of the uterus, ovaries, skin, blood vessels, and other organs. Other studies show that it increases the potency of other carcinogens. In a human study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, found that it was associated with increased incidence of bladder cancer. Now, Saccharin is less common in food but has been replaced by another dangerous artificial sweetener called Aspartame.
One of the most widely used artificial sweeteners is aspartame. You may recognize it under the brand names Equal or NutraSweet. It has been commonly added as a sweetener to diet soft drinks since its introduction in 1981. Recently, aspartame has been thought to be cancer-causing, along with various reports of seizures, mood changes, headaches, and lessened mental performance associated with its consumption. Some studies suggest that aspartame can cause leukemia and lymphoma in rats. One study’s results even appear to link the increase in brain tumors in the United States with the growing consumption of aspartame.
Sucralose, or Splenda, is an artificial sweetener commonly found in sodas, ice cream, baked goods, frozen dinners, and other processed foods. One reason sucralose has become so popular is that it is stable in high heat conditions, unlike Aspartame, making it a suitable sugar substitute in baking. Sucralose is made by chemically reacting sugar with chlorine. Rodent studies have found sucralose might cause shrinkage of the thymus gland, contributing to immune defects. A recent study conducted in Italy announced that sucralose caused leukemia in mice after exposure before birth. Earlier studies have found DNA damage in mice caused by sucralose, and many researchers claim that it harms our guts by changing our bacteria and enzymes. This could cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and disrupt metabolic function, potentially leading to obesity.
Acesulfame potassium, or Acesulfame K, or Ace K, is an artificial, calorie-free sweetener marketed under the names Sunett and Sweet One. Ace K is 200 times sweeter than sugar, 2/3 as sweet as saccharin, 1/3 as sweet as sucralose, and similar in sweetness to aspartame. It is commonly used in baked goods, soda, chewing gum, gelatin desserts, protein shakes, and chewable pharmaceuticals. In rodent studies, Ace K has been shown to cause insulin secretion, cause cancer in males, affect thyroid function, and alter neurometabolic function.
Neotame is an artificial sweetener 13,000 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). It is made by NutraSweet, a former division of Monsanto and the original manufacturer of Aspartame. Neotame is being marketed as a low-cost sweetener, as so little is needed to create sweetness. Neotame was created based on the aspartame formula, even though 80 percent of all complaints to the FDA have to do with bad reactions to aspartame. Neotame has one critical addition: 3-dimethylbutl, listed on the EPA’s most hazardous chemical list. Neotame is thought to be an even more dangerous neurotoxin, excitotoxin, and immunotoxin than aspartame. In fact, Monsanto’s own pre-approval studies showed adverse reactions. No independent studies found Neotame to be safe.
Overwhelmed by all of the artificial sweeteners? Don’t fret! There are so many natural sweeteners on the market now. In fact, you can find several at our store. Some you may have heard of are honey, maple syrup, molasses, date sugar, date syrup, coconut sugar, and coconut syrup. Trying to watch your weight or limit your sugar intake? We sell plenty of natural low-cal and no-cal sugar substitutes like Erythritol, Xylitol, Stevia, and Swerve. Check out a previous blog about sugar substitutes by ONF employee, Kahlilah.